YOUNG PEOPLE ASK
How Can I Deal With Tragedy?
Tragedy can affect anyone. “The swift do not always win the race, nor do the mighty win the battle,” the Bible says. “Unexpected events overtake them all.” (Ecclesiastes 9:11) That includes some young people who have faced tragedy. How have they dealt with it? Consider two examples.
My parents divorced when I was 14.
I told myself that my parents’ divorce wasn’t happening, that my dad just needed time to himself for a while. He loved my mom—why would he leave her? Why would he leave me?
It was difficult for me to talk to anyone about what was happening. I wanted to block it out. I was angry, although at the time I didn’t realize it. I began having problems with anxiety, and I had trouble sleeping.
When I was 19, I lost my mother to cancer. She was my best friend.
If my parents’ divorce was shocking, my mom’s death was utterly devastating. I’m still not over it. Sleep has gotten even more elusive for me, and I still have anxiety.
At the same time, I have found several things to be helpful. For example, Proverbs 18:1 warns us against isolating ourselves, so I try to follow that advice.
Also, as one of Jehovah’s Witnesses, I try to read our encouraging Bible-based publications. One that helped me during the time of my parents’ divorce was Questions Young People Ask—Answers That Work. In particular, I remember reading the chapter in Volume 2 entitled “Can I Be Happy in a Single-Parent Family?”
One of my favorite scriptures for dealing with my anxiety is found at Matthew 6:25-34. In verse 27, Jesus asked: “Who of you by being anxious can add one cubit a to his life span?”
Bad things will happen to all of us, but I learned from my mom’s example that the way we deal with those trials is important. She went through a lot—a divorce and then a terminal illness—but through it all she kept a positive attitude, and her faith in God remained strong right to the end. I’ll never forget the things she taught me about Jehovah.
To think about: How can reading the Bible and Bible-based publications help you deal with tragedy?—Psalm 94:19.
When I was 17, I saw my father take his last breath. Losing him was the worst thing that ever happened in my life. I was devastated.
I felt that he wasn’t really dead, that it wasn’t really my dad under the sheets when they covered the body. I told myself, ‘He will wake up tomorrow.’ I felt empty and lost.
My family and I are Jehovah’s Witnesses, and our congregation was a tremendous support when my father died. They fed us, offered to stay with us, and stuck close to us—not just for a little while but for the long term. To me, their support was proof that Jehovah’s Witnesses are genuine Christians.—John 13:35.
A scripture that has really encouraged me is 2 Corinthians 4:17, 18. It says: “Though the tribulation is momentary and light, it works out for us a glory that is of more and more surpassing greatness and is everlasting; while we keep our eyes, not on the things seen, but on the things unseen. For the things seen are temporary, but the things unseen are everlasting.”
That last verse was powerful to me. My father’s suffering was temporary, but what God promises for the future is everlasting. My dad’s death gave me the opportunity to reflect on how I was using my life and to adjust my goals.
To think about: How can a personal tragedy help you to reassess your goals in life?—1 John 2:17.
a A cubit is a unit of measure equal to about 45 centimeters, or about 1.5 feet.